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Dark Matter [Paperback]

Michelle Paver
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible.

And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409121186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409121183
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Malawi to a Belgian mother and a father who ran the tiny 'Nyasaland Times', Michelle Paver moved to the UK when she was three. She was brought up in Wimbledon and, following a Biochemistry Degree from Oxford, she became a partner in a big City law firm. She gave up the City to follow her long-held dream of becoming a writer. Successfully published as an adult author, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness were her first books for children and her brilliant new series, Gods and Warriors, is just beginning . . .

Product Description


Evocative, chilling and superbly unsettling, it is very good indeed. (Sarah Broadhurst BOOKSELLER)

This gripping ghost story has moments of horror and beauty (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Paver's descriptions of the topography are marvellously vivid and add to the sense of menace that suffuses the story (Joan Smith SUNDAY TIMES)

'An atmospheric ghost story that would give Susan Hill a run for her money' (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

A chilling period piece, Dark Matter cunningly illustrates how fear, rather than death, is the great equaliser. (INDEPENDENT)

More than just a ghost story, this is an exquisitely told psychological thriller. Unputdownable! (WOMANS WEEKLY)

A genuinely terrifying tale ... I cannot recommend this novel enough, especially in these dark nights, you will certainly get more than you bargained for. I did. (SAVIDGE READS Book Blog)

Ghost stories don't frighten me much but this one did. Quite a lot, actually ... Chilling in every respect. (Richard Madeley)

Dark Matter builds suspense brilliantly ... As well as a ghost story, it's a great portrayal of Svalbard and the experience of spending a winter in the Arctic. (ADVENTURE TRAVEL)

A genuinely suspenseful and really quite chilling tale (TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT)

Book Description

A terrifying 1930s ghost story set in the haunting wilderness of the far north.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilly thrill! 26 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Michelle Paver is best-known for her very enjoyable young adult series `The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness'. Dark Matter is not Paver's first adult novel but it is her first ghost story. It is an eerie story set in the Arctic in the late 1930s. Dark Matter is told in the first person through the journal of Jack Miller. Jack Miller is poor and eager to change his life so when four upper-class young men offer him the chance to be a wireless operator on an Arctic expedition he jumps at the chance even though the difference in their class makes him the odd man out.

The expedition seems to be doomed from the start and there are inklings of chilling things to come on the deserted bay of Gruhuken.
What makes Dark Matter so effective is Paver's clever evocation of the stark and desolate landscape of the Arctic and Jack's increasing isolation as the novel progresses. It is more of a psychological novel than a gory sort of ghost story but the best ghost stories often are. It is the suggestion of the ghost which creates the most suspense and there is a genuine sense of unease throughout the novel which Paver manages to keep up all the way through.

What I also liked is the relationships in the novel which I felt lifted it from the normal, run-of-mill ghost story into something really interesting. The tense relationships between Jack and his fellow explorers - Gus and Algie being the main ones and Gus in particular- and Jack's relationship with the husky Isaak which is finely portrayed and the most warming part in a very chilly novel!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very effective 21 Oct 2010
By M. Dale
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's hard to write much about this book without spoiling the plot, so this will be brief. Set just before WWII in the 30s, the book follows the story of a scientific expedition to the Arctic in the form of the journal of one of its members.

Although it's slow to start, what follows is a genuinely creepy and at times intense story. Fans of blood and gore won't be impressed as this is very much a psychological thriller, but I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 23 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not a fan of ghost stories, but I like the odd one or two and this one is no exception. A crossover/adult novel which definitely gave me the creeps and I'm not easily moved. Set in Spitsbergen in 1937, 5 young hopefuls plan a geographical expedition to study weather, glaciers etc, but just before departure two have to drop out and three set off. The Norwegian ship captain is reluctant to take them to their exact destination, but with much persuasion eventually does, without telling them the reason for his reluctance. However once there, Jack Miller starts to experience strange feelings and premonitions which he records in his diary. When another colleague gets sick and the two of them have to depart for a while, Jack offers to stay and as it approaches the time of year for perpetual darkness, so his fears, imaginings and visions increase. He discovers that the area is believed to be haunted by a former miner who was murdered, but is it, or is it the madness of lonliness and darkness setting in? A very good read, keeping you gripped as the ending approaches and not at all fully predicatble. More please. Also remind me of The Solitude of Thomas Cave.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad 19 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michelle Paver has written a lot for children and on one level this story is told in a very simplistic way. Aspects of the book however are quite spooky. The main character, for example, talks about how he doesn't like to wear his snow shoes when he is out in the Tundra alone; they make a sound like someone is following in the darkness. It is not difficult to imagine the eeriness of Jack's plight but as the story gains momentum it seems to end a little abruptly.

If you like ghost stories do read this book, but don't read it laid on the sofa whilst the kids play on the Wii. Read it in bed at night with your bedside light casting shadows and the wind whistling at the window - you will be chilled. As for the reviewer who read it alone in an isolated farmhouse, I wouldn't do that in a million years!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars spooky and thrilling 16 Nov 2010
The set-up for this ghost story is economical and effective - a working class young man drawn onto a polar expedition with three upper-class gentleman explorers. The sense of dread builds slowly through throwaway comments and strange events recorded in diary format. Several bits were really quite chilling, and the silent figure whom the protagonist witnesses in Gruhuken reminds one very much of The Woman in Black or The Turn of the Screw. The descriptions of the Arctic landscape are superb. My only quibble is that this is a very short book which felt slightly rushed: the protagonist's psychology hints at much rich texture which is unexplored - his past, his sexuality - and there was room for plenty more scares before the slightly anti-climactic denouement. It was a shame that the author had to abandon the diary format near the end - the impression was that she couldn't make the narrative work while sticking to it, and so had to withdraw from the established narrative structure. The epilogue diary entry had me expecting a final twist that never came. Still, despite these minor issues, I really enjoyed Dark Matter.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and beautiful book that I can't quite forget!
This book still gives me the chill's and I read it around 3 years ago. Its written in a way that allows your imagination to build a picture and then takes you along for the ride. Read more
Published 2 days ago by SMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 9 days ago by Julie Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, very very creepy!
I read this on holiday on a tiny Scottish island in a bothy with only gas-lighting and the nearest neighbour miles away! Read more
Published 16 days ago by Ian Read
5.0 out of 5 stars good book !
got me thinking about my own -inner dialogue.

I enjoyed it very much and would suggest others give it a go.
Published 24 days ago by Matthew East
4.0 out of 5 stars A fab tale of Arctic exploration and a malevolent ghost!
Having been familiar with Paver's children's books (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and Gods and Warriors - Both excellent stories! Read more
Published 28 days ago by C R Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Although I'm not normally a ghost story fan, this is a tremendous short novel. Keeps your attention all the way to the end, even though you know from the first page that the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilly - in more ways than one!
A really good ghost story - one that will have you looking towards your windows at night and making sure the curtains are drawn. Is there someone out there? Can I hear footsteps? Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
I hate using cliches like "I was on the edge of my seat" but oh my god my heart felt like it was being wretched from my chest as I read ever line from the time they are on... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Anne-Marie Upton
5.0 out of 5 stars The Darkness, The Coldness, The Solitude and The Horror. Oh The Horror
This is fabulously terrifying. It is described as a ghost story, but the terror is the way Paver takes the reader into the mind of her central character, Jack Miller. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lady Fancifull
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This was so spooky I could not readin bed unless my husbad was home. The description of the Arctic is Brilliant. It is also a book about class and this is cleverly portrayed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Helen D. Smart
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